Best Practices when Working with Foreign-Born Individuals in the Current Political Climate


Wednesday, September 25, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

NYU Silver School of Social Work
1 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003

NYSED and ACE Approved for 3 CE contact hours




This presentation will be delivered in Spanish to assist social workers who are providing Spanish language services to foreign-born individuals.  The term foreign-born includes refugees, migrants, immigrants, asylum seekers, and all people who are pursuing immigration relief.  The program will include practical and clinical techniques to better communicate with foreign-born clients, a discussion of the current political landscape and state of our immigration system, and information on reliable community resources.

Many social workers feel out of their depth when working with individuals who have fears and concerns about their immigration status.  Our program will also provide a brief introduction into the immigration system, various types of immigration statuses that their clients may have, and trends and issues foreign-born people are currently facing in the U.S.  Through this discussion we will also help participants understand some of the unique mental health needs of this population, while considering ways to engage with foreign-born clients and their communities. This can enable social workers to provide valuable clinical and practical interventions while addressing dangerous patterns of misinformation that might be thriving in their clients’ communities.

Finally, we often hear from social workers that they are unsure of where to access needed services and lack understanding of a foreign-born person’s eligibility for a variety of public benefits.  We will also provide resources and referral information to help participants feel more prepared to serve their foreign-born, Spanish speaking clients.

Learning Objectives


  • Increase their knowledge around existing resources and referrals that might assist their Spanish-speaking, foreign-born clients.
  • Enhance their knowledge on utilizing effective clinical assessment and intervention techniques while working with foreign-born individuals.        
  • Expand their familiarity with Spanish language cultural idioms and means of expression that describe emotional distress and develop effective ways to respond to these needs.       
  • Develop further awareness around the functioning of the U.S. immigration system and types of immigration relief.
  • Better engage with foreign-born, Spanish speaking individuals, families, and communities to address their practical and clinical needs.


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Gisselle Pardo, LCSW, MPH
Vice President of Programs, YWCA Brooklyn

Gisselle Pardo is a clinical social worker with over 24 years of experience implementing and growing programs to support the wellbeing of children and families, both locally and internationally. She received her MSW degree from Fordham University and her Global MPH from NYU.  Her career started in direct services in school based mental health and pediatric HIV health clinics, later working with immigrant survivors of gender based violence.  More recently she served as the first program coordinator for the Silver School MSW semester abroad program in Argentina and an adjunct lecturer at NYU.  Internationally she has conducted research in Indonesia, Thailand, Colombia and Argentina that focused on family based mental health interventions.  Currently as the VP of Programs at YWCA Brooklyn, Gisselle oversees permanent housing services for low-income women, most of who are survivors of trauma, a college access program for young women of color and services for immigrant women. Gisselle also serves on the NASW-NYC Immigration and Global Social work committee.


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Jessica Gorelick, LCSW, MA
Social Worker, NYC Refugee Representation Program

Jessica Gorelick is a Clinical Social Worker focused on providing services to those who have experienced human rights abuses.  The majority of her work has been with immigrants, asylum seekers, and trafficking survivors in schools, mental health clinics, and social and legal services settings.  She uses an eclectic approach - tying together pieces of culturally appropriate and trauma-informed psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, and mindfulness techniques.  She has worked internationally as the Program Administrator at a non-profit bilingual school through Bilingual Education for Central America (BECA) in Cofradia, Honduras, managing the educational and psychosocial aspects of the program.  Jessica currently works on Human Rights First’s Refugee Representation team, providing direct services to asylum seekers and training attorneys, social workers, and service providers to utilize trauma-informed techniques when engaging with asylum seekers.  She was trained by Doctors of the World and regularly provides psychological evaluations for people seeking protection-based immigration relief - including to detained individuals and families.  Jessica holds a BS in Clinical Psychology and Spanish from Tufts University, an MSW from University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from Arcadia University.  She participated in four years of post-graduate psychoanalytic training at the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center and maintains a private psychotherapy practice.  Jessica is fluent in Spanish.